Surprise, surprise. Kentucky head coach John Calipari brought in another great recruiting class except this group of future Wildcats fell short of the number one spot, landing at number two. Calipari has great balance in this class reeling in guys at four different positions and couldn’t have found a better replacement for soon-to-be number one pick Anthony Davis than Nerlens Noel (#2). All four prospects fit Kentucky’s style perfectly and will be able to share the ball very well since they’re all selfless, willing to pass and most important… willing to do whatever it takes to win. The question for this Kentucky class won’t be whether they’re able to play together, the question is whether they’ll be able to mature quick enough and play well enough to win a second straight National Championship.
Get to know the recruits
Noel is simply an amazing shot-blocker. You can use whatever adjective you want — phenomenal, astounding, breath-taking, ridiculous, remarkable — all of those words are accurate terms. His timing, ability to block shots with both hands equally, quickness off his feet and length all contribute to his shot-blocking skills. Noel is also a good rebounder who has good physical tools between his aforementioned length in addition to his quickness and athleticism. He is great running the floor in transition. He is a game-changer on the defensive end and has done a nice job developing his offensive game. He has shown the ability to consistently make a hook over both shoulders and he has even flashed a 15-foot jumper every now and then. Once he becomes a threat on offense he will be a scary player. Other than working on his offensive skills, Noel can improve his strength since he’s very skinny.
Poythress is a guy who no matter how high I rank him, I still don’t think it’s high enough. He’s a great slasher who is a very good finisher around the rim. He is consistently able to get to the basket and has good body control in the lane. He has good athleticism and length and has developed a jump shot to keep the defense honest. He’s simply a great prospect on offense and is able to score at will when he’s clicking. Poythress is a factor on defense as well because of his ability to rebound and even block shots. His length and athleticism can cause problems for opponents and one thing he’s able to do well is get his hands in passing lanes to make it more difficult on the offense. He is also great in transition and will fit in at Kentucky perfectly where head coach John Calipari will help him elevate his game even more.
Goodwin is a shooting guard with good athleticism and length and is one of the most competitive guys in the class. He’s a smooth player with good aggressiveness and is excellent in getting to the basket. He also has the ability to hit pull-up jumpers in the mid-range game and is a good finisher at the bucket. Goodwin is also a guy who excels on the defensive end. He uses his physical tools to bother opponents and although he can improve his three-point shot, he isn’t a guy with any glaring weaknesses in his game. He’ll fit in well at Kentucky and will be very productive in transition. Like his future teammate class of 2012 small forward Alex Poythress, it was hard pinpointing a good spot for Goodwin in the rankings.
The future Wildcat is a long, athletic big man who loves running the floor and excels in transition. He’s a great shot-blocker who is a presence on the defensive end, although there is room for improvement in terms of his rebounding ability. A couple of things he could work include his strength and ability to score in the paint with his back to the basket. He’s the typical athletic high school big man in the sense that his defensive game is far above his offensive game right now, although I’m sure that will change once Cauley-Stein gets to Lexington.
*Photo courtesy of National Recruiting Spotlight